2010 NFL Question Marks: Chicago Bears

CHICAGO - DECEMBER 22: Members of the Chicago Bear offensive line including Olin Kreutz #57, Roberto Garza #63 and John Tait #76 line-up in front of the Green Bay Packer defense on December 22, 2008 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Packers 20-17 in overtime. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Merry training camp season, everyone. It’s been a long offseason, but football is finally gearing up again and to celebrate I’m rolling out a new series on TSR entitled “2010 NFL Question Marks,” where I discuss one or two of the biggest concerns that teams have heading into the new season. Granted, some teams have more issues than others, but I’ll primarily be focusing on the biggest problem areas. Today I’ll be discussing the Bears and their continued concerns along the offensive line.

Once again, expectations are high in the “Windy City.” A year after trading for quarterback Jay Cutler, the Bears hired offensive coordinator Mike Martz in hopes that the “Mad Scientist” will transform his new gunslinger back into a Pro Bowler. But does Cutler have the horses up front to protect him?

Some still point to the Bears’ receivers as being the team’s biggest weakness. But with Devin Hester, Johnny Knox, Devin Aromashodu and Earl Bennett, Chicago should be fine at wideout – especially in Martz’s system. In fact, Hester and Knox could be in store for breakout years.

But the offensive line is the position that remains a huge issue. Olin Kreutz remains the team’s best linemen after turning in a banner 2009 campaign, but he needs to cut down on his penalties after committing six last year. If he can, he remains the only player on the Bears’ O-line that plays at an elite level.

Of course, the hope is that former first round pick Chris Williams can be that kind of player soon. A back injury limited him during his rookie year in 2008 and until he moved to left tackle, he struggled mightily in ’09. Through the first 10 games last season, he gave up five sacks, eight hits and 24 hurries. But after taking over for the equally pitiful Orlando Pace in Week 13, Williams finished well down the stretch, giving the team hope for his future.

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Cardinals drop asking price for Boldin – what about Bears?

The Cardinals have apparently lowered their asking price for wide receiver Anquan Boldin according to ESPN.com’s Sal Paolantonio.

Anquan BoldinThe Arizona Cardinals have reduced their trade demands for disgruntled receiver Anquan Boldin to a second-round pick in Saturday’s draft and other considerations and are talking to at least three teams who seem to be newly interested, two sources told ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio on Friday.
The New York Jets, New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles have expressed interest given the downgraded demands from a first- and third-round pick, the sources said.

Cardinals general manager Rod Graves and coach Ken Whisenhunt had repeatedly emphasized at the team’s pre-draft news conference Tuesday that they would be happy to keep Boldin and eventually try to sign him to a new contract.

If I were GM Jerry Angelo of the Bears, I’d be all over this like stink on horse crap. Chicago doesn’t have a ton of holes to address after landing quarterback Jay Cutler in a trade and signing free agent offensive linemen Orlando Pace, Frank Omiyale and Kevin Shaffer. So why not give Cutler a dynamic weapon like Boldin in the passing game?

That said, the Bears did give up their first round pick and one of their thirds (they still have one compensatory selection left from losing receiver Bernard Berrian via free agency last year), so losing their second (plus whatever else the Cardinals wanted) would sink their entire draft.

Trading away two picks for Cutler was already out of character for Angelo. If he traded any more picks, the Bears would be wise to put out a search party to see where the real Jerry Angelo was being kept.

Update: Cardinals’ GM Rod Graves denies that the Cardinals have dropped their asking price on Boldin. Looks like just another internet rumor on NFL draft eve…

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